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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 12, 2014 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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our interests may differ from a disagreement success is a secure, prosperous and pluralistic democratic state remains important to the united states. if the firms come i commit to work with congress to help achieve this goal and promote a constructive u.s. egypt partnership furthers our interests. ..
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i am deeply honored today to appear as president obama's nominee to be the united states ambassador to the republic of barack. i am grateful to the president and secretary for their confidence in me. if confirmed, i will work closely with you to advance u.s. goals in iraq. alec four to building an excellent work of my predecessor and friend who is with us today. i am also delighted to share this battle with dana smith, a valued colleague of many years. with your permission, i would like to introduce my daughter, a rising sophomore at duke university. seagram chief of love from atlanta to be here with me today my wife barbara and two sons are and iman. i am grateful that my family has been game for every new posting. i am humbled and thrilled to
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have the opportunity to serve as chief of mission at the american embassy baghdad. one of our largest and most complex diplomatic missions. i have served and iraq twice, as you mentioned, and as director for iraqi affairs and the national security council. these jobs have felt the prepare for the complexity and challenges of the assignment had we are all familiar with the history of the past decade. it is impossible to serve without recalling and honoring the sacrifice and achievement of our u.s. servicemen and women and civilians. more than 4,000 lost their lives there, but they all some put an end to the oppression and regional threat of the saddam hussein mercian. today we are all committed to help build a new iraq, secure in its borders with strong democratic institutions where all can benefit from its abundant resources.
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iraq has, indeed, made important economic and democratic progress, but is now engaged in a fierce battle still against the islamic state of iraq and. one of the most dangerous terrorist tricks in the world. monday's coordinated attack in which i s. il militants overran parts of the city highlights just how dangerous this group is we will continue to work with our international partners to try to meet the needs of those who have been displaced and will look for ways to support the government and security forces and their conflict with i s. il. overall, violence has reached levels not seen since the height of the u.s. surgeon 2007. suicide vests and vehicle bomb attacks are averaging nearly 70 per month as the beginning of this year. the united states has taken important steps to help iraq
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combat this shared enemy. we provided urgently needed military equipment through the foreign military sales process. and we have been told our equipment and advice are making a critical difference. what like to think this panel for making these transfers possible. in addition to military equipment transfers we have strengthened our ever nation sharing relationships and are developing programs to improve border security. we have initiated a high-level dialogue between senior military leaders and key military commanders. security assistance is only one element of our assistance. it is connected to an tense political and economic engagement. the united states has also encouraged iraq to adopt a holistic strategy, to isolate isil from the population and development strategy for sustainable security. this strategy will require continued engagement between
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political leaders, tribal leaders, and others. from a political standpoint iraq successful national election was a victory for efforts to strengthen the democratic institutions. while prime minister malachi's state of law coalition won more seats than any other, it fell short of the 165 needed to form a majority government. government formation is an iraqi -owned process and will be up to the political leaders to form a government that reflects the will of the people as expressed in the april 30 election. despite the political and security challenges, it's tremendous economic growth has been impressive. the economy has averaged six and a half percent growth since 2005. it is now producing over 3 million barrels of oil a day. the united states and iraq have a partner to share best practices.
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we are engaged says on issues related to hydrocarbon revenue management. the government also faces a challenge in its natural resources in disturbing the wealth created by natural resources to its population. to you this will promote growth in other sectors. but that economic growth offers exciting opportunities for u.s. firms, particularly in key sectors such as infrastructure development and construction. if confirmed, i look forward to promoting secretary carries shared prosperity agenda as a master. mr. chairman, as i discussed, iraq poses a challenge and security environment. if confirmed as ambassador i will bear responsibility for the safety of all u.s. personnel, including at embassy bank ag and our conflicts. if confirmed, i will work closely with our team on the ground as well as with our
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diplomatic security professionals back here in washington to ensure that our people are well protected. this will be my highest priority as well as to protect the safety of american citizens. since u.s. troops withdrew in 2011, the embassy and consulate have significantly reduced staffing. as of june 2014 we have approximately 5300 staff, one-third of our 2012. if confirmed, i will continue to examine staffing levels to ensure if we have the appropriate number of personnel to carry out our mission. our diplomatic efforts are supported by a highly skilled team of individuals of the embassy, and they represent a wide range of u.s. department daisies. as hall of government approach allows us to bring the very best experts our governments have to offer an address some of the challenges i raised with you today. i would like to thank everyone
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in the embassy for their service as well as a leader is back here in washington, including this committee that make this level of injuries is the coordination possible. our continued success depends on continued cooperation. mr. chairman, members of the committee, thank you for their virginity to address you. i appreciate and value this committee's oversight, and if confirmed by look forward to welcoming you and your respective staff members to baghdad. your continued engagement on policy issues that we face are a vital element in ensuring our success. i would be pleased to respond to any questions you may have. >> chairman. >> this is my first time. chairman, ranking member, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today as the president's nominee to the u.s. ambassador.
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if dehere what i am extremely grateful for their confidence in me. if confirmed, like ford or representing the american people and to working with this committee and other interested members of congress to advance u.s. interests. as a privilege to share this panel with two of our finest ambassadors his work have long admired. it has been an honor to serve as a foreign service officer and to use my regional experience and the arabic language in a variety of assignments. the foreign service even introduced me to my husband is here today, and our two children well, the foreign service did not introduce me to them. he is here with our two children, and it is exciting. a growing role and the international community with and loans that extends far beyond 4400 square miles and 250,000 citizens. we share a productive
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relationship on key regional issues ranging from syria to peron. extremely supportive of our commitment to find a solution. if confirmed, will work to ensure our policies and diplomatic platforms advance u.s. foreign-policy and national-security interests. a defense cooperation is a central pillar of our partnership and is reflected in the hosting of the u.s. senate, a forward headquarters, the combined air operations center and the three andersen air expeditionary wing. if confirmed will work to deepen our military ties and expanding regional security cooperation. we have an active and productive dialogue. endorsing the proliferation security initiative and is a founding member of a global counter-terrorism form.
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these efforts take on increasing importance as violent extremists expand their operations, and we are working together to improve the capacity of a counter-terrorism finances fannie and to disrupt illicit cash los. the united states is also continuing efforts to support the moderate opposition. they believe, as we do, that the murderous oppression of the syrian people leaves no legitimacy to rule, and we share the view that the crisis should be resolved through a negotiated political solution. we are working closely with regional partners to maximize the impact of our collective effort. they have also publicly welcomed the joint plan of action between tirana and the p5 plus one. their effort is a testament to our partnership.
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with regard to the individuals transferred from guantanamo or in connection with the release the u.s. has and will continue to coordinate closely. we're confident of the security measures, including restrictions placed on the activities. the administration is confident that they have the capacity and will to deliver on the commitment. let me be clear, if confirmed by will work the state to insure these commitments are upheld. we will consult regularly with the members of this committee as we move forward. a thriving commercial relationship continues to grow presenting tremendous of richard is for american business. one of our most important trading partners in the region and to order your $5 billion worth of u.s. goods in 2013. if confirmed i'll make my
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priority debited vigorously to ensure we continue to seize on a multitude of opportunities offered by the market. also host six branches of u.s. universities. if confirmed, will work to expand our cultural and educational partnership to promote enduring ties between our people for the next-generation. the u.s. mission with employees from a variety of different agencies, my first priority would remain at all times protecting the safety and security of the dedicated men and women and our mission as well as all americans. chairman, ranking member, members of the committee, it has been my privilege and a great honor to spend my entire adult life in the service of our country promoting and defending u.s. interests and values. if confirmed by welcome your views and insights and look forward to your visits. i would be pleased to answer any questions that you might have to me today. thank you. >> well, thank you all for your testimony.
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welcome to your family and friends. let me start with you, ambassador. let me ask you an overarching question. will you make yourself available if confirmed to the committee and answer inquiries from the committee while your in post? >> yes. >> yes, mr. chairman. >> absolutely. >> ambassador, you know you are going from one difficult assignment to another. that is why we have some extraordinary persons like yourself. speaking for myself as the chairman, let me to assign to waive we are going to continue to see mass death penalty sentences, if we are going to see massive arrests of young people who, in essence, created a situation in terrier square
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that ultimately led to wear presidency's in now can be elected-, if our president believes that only his engagement, which i applaud, is sufficient for is relationship with the united states, then there will be a rude awakening. and i hope that in your role as our ambassador that you will be able to relate to the president that we need a broader agenda to see progress moving forward. not just because that is my view , bud the ephah 14 appropriations legislation contains certification requirements to release to rest of the fy14 assistance, including a newly elected government. i would like to hear from you as
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you approach this new assignment what it is you will be sanguine nikko egypt and how we make progress to create the political space for the egyptian government to address some of these concerns that by law they must do if we are ultimately going to continue our assistance ? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i agree 100 percent. we wanted a stable and secure region because it has and respects women serve human rights democracy and builds up prosperous economy. if confirmed to my were engaged on all of these issues with the egyptian government and work with them to partner and to develop the economy, to build a human rights, expand those rights, stop practices such as the mass trials the you have referred to, which we have
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condemned and insure that justice is individualized and they're is a society and country and government that the egyptian people buy into, see that their interests are best represented inside the democratic process and not outside it which would lead to fundamental long-term stability. egypt does have a promising prospect including economic prospects faugh. it can function as an emerging economy. when need to, again, build on that. >> in addition to those concerns you talked about economic ones fit. i am concerned by what i read, the statements or is sells lucky things that greater state intervention in the economy is going to treat their virginity is that egyptians need.
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i am not quite sure having just returned from the gulf region that are partners of actually been helpful to the egyptians will have the few. >> thank you very much. in jersey economic reforms necessary for the economy to progress. i would note that egypt has a number of economic advantages we can build on. as a relatively well-developed infrastructure, specifically telecommunications. has access to markets in europe, asia, africa. attracting investment and natural resources, particularly
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natural gas which can be developed. there is the basis for a stronger economy. we have to encourage reforms that will attract investors and target the assistance so that it addresses the parts of the economy that need to be stressed and particular reforms. >> ambassador jones we had prime minister maliki here last year. it was a difficult meeting. i don't know whether or not he will actually be the prime minister again. i guess by many accounts he may very well all the money put a coalition necessary to do that. as i said to the ambassador as it relates to our relations with the egyptian government, in this case the iraqis to understand the use of bombs to blow it over flights and transiting of
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aerospace lion there on sending troops and military equipment and to syria would and unity. until they are resettled, it is going to be part of the what this committee judges as it relates to future arms sales, our relationships. would like to year from new. we understand the importance. we understand online lives of those or lost in pursuit of a more democratic iraq.
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>> we completely agree that for iraq to succeed the different political elements need to come to gather and create a shared vision. they need to create a shared vision for the national security, pull together to address the terrorist threat posed by isil. although the news is bad, i think one positive aspect of this may be of the groups are, indeed, coming to go to address this challenge. of least we are seeing signs of. in regards to bombs, it is completely unacceptable. it cannot be tolerated. this is something that my
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colleague has raised with senior levels of the government. there has been an instruction handed down through the military that there will not be used, and we also heard from military contacts that they recognize that instruction. rigorous of the overflights, this is an issue that remains a problem. we are concerned that they are supplying the regime. this is something we would like to see stopped and something we have raised at the most senior levels, and i will continue to do that to look for ways to find a way to stop this traffic. on the issue of camp liberty, i know this is an issue of particular concern. when i was the deputy chief of mission in 2010 and 2013 we witnessed a terrible attack in which many people were killed and others wounded. i think that the steps that we have taken quite positive moving
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residence. improve their security. also responding to our request in their quests of others to improve the security around camp liberty. that is encouraging, but the solution, of course, is to remove the members of the mujahedin can get into a safer place. there will not be safe until they are outside. i government is taking the lead on this. special envoy for the secretary is meeting with representatives of countries around the world fed faugh we also now have a team in baghdad to interview members to see working toward receiving a group of those.
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their responsibility. that is an excuse that is unacceptable. secondly, i agree that the settlement is the ultimate solution. i hope been baja we will consider bringing some of them to the united states as an example to the rest of the world but in the interim i will the prime minister responsible for lives of those individuals. i don't want you to think i don't have questions. >> i am sure that is fine. >> that is correct. >> i may not be from the south, but i think would be more genteel. >> again, i want to thank all three of you. i will star in order. ambassador jones, you know,
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ambassador croft. like many of us many times. today when you are there it feels like a vacant, deserted lot relative to our emphasis. feels like we have checked the box and moved on and that we really have lost influence. that is -- by think everyone in knowledge is that. we just have not been robust at all levels relative to our efforts. we have a great conversation yesterday. we talked a little bit about the lack of the fact that our troops are gone, and that has contributed to the lack of influence in a big way. you've got to two wars and. i mentioned that i would bring this up. many of us have said cannon and maybe even have to use it what you say may feel that one of the reasons that it is the way that it is the lawyer did not leave
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behind some presence and that we actually come of this was actually want the of ministration wanted to occur. you have a different perspective the figure would be good feeder share your thoughts relative to what we do not have a presence. >> as you said, we spoke about this yesterday. my view on this is the the people really do not come together and ask us to stay in a way that made it possible. it is as simple as that. no major leaders with the exception of the kurds came forward and divided as to stay. they did not go on television. we obviously need to have a status of forces agreement. they did not meet us halfway. i think that this was the results, and that's how it
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ended. >> and so from your perspective the fact that we have no presence there and candidly much lesser influence is the result really of just the people not wanting it to be that way. >> yes, sir. that is interesting and a different perspective that i have heard from most. i appreciate you sharing that. i would agree with the chairman. we had a pretty terce meeting here is obviously not a good prime minister. he has not done a good job of reaching out to the population which has caused them to be more receptive to efforts. obviously this year in conflict combined of this analysis to they sang and it is not having an impact. i believe it's having a major impact. with our diminished status and the fact that we used the shuttle diplomacy, i think you
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did that in your previous capacity, how do you view your role under the circumstances that we have and trying to mitigate some of the problems that exist, especially between. >> so i think i am blessed to be falling in the footsteps of cp croft. established good relations with all of the group's commander i think this is a role that we should continue to play, using our good offices to broker solutions to the myriad problems and think we have made great progress in recent months in trying to broker an arrangement by which the hydrocarbon could be finalized and their relations between the kurdish regional government in baghdad could resolve their problems. i think we can also find ways to
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support the process of political conciliation between some groups and the government. this is the role that the united state has played for the last ten years. i think that we do have significant influence because of our continuing presence in the commercial and petroleum sector as well as a continuing presence in the military sector, though obviously not with troops on the ground. >> ambassador kamal we talked to a little bit about another topic. a similar topic, but different reasons. our influence in egypt itself. people laugh had strongly held beliefs about what we should and shouldn't be doing. i felt we should continue the relationship severally with some contingencies. the fact is, we have been on-again off-again.
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people i've received us to be supporting the muslim brotherhood but not the citizens of regent. you have had some of the gulf countries stepdad and fill a vacuum when agent felt we were stepping away. what is your sense of how the leaders today view the united states. similar to ambassador jones, i'll do you expect to build a step in the situation and exert appropriate influence. >> thank you very much. but they for server we do have a partnership. the egyptians are continuing to engage. we need to take a advantage of that. our interest the seven overlap considerably. it is not going dollars to cover and not going to always agree on matters.
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engaging with them to working with them we can put it -- pushed right direction. you want to see stability and security built on the fundamentals of the sound society. and our assistance, pursuing a in believe that our interests overlap considerably. if confirmed will push them in a direction that we want them to go. use the assistance to the extent approved by congress to covina further our interest in the country. >> i appreciate the relationship and conversations that we have had in the past. thank you for your willingness to serve in this capacity. the blood and an interesting role because of a lack of policy
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from our standpoint. it became exasperated. sort of went out on their own, if you well. their report that that is being -- moving back into a more coordinated effort with us. do you have any sense of their effort on the ground in syria relative to the opposition and of removing more into the mainstream relative to the type of support that they're giving? >> thank you for that question. yes, we do have the sense the real making progress in terms of coordination. it is all of our goal to support the moderate opposition and syria and, of course, to address the humanitarian disaster that is happening. incredibly generous, given over $1 billion toward addressing the humanitarian needs in syria. and sir going forward what our engagement consists of his continuing to find ways to
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coordinate, work together in support of the moderate opposition. obviously with the ultimate goal >> understand their developing language that allows tettleton training of the opposition on the ground and syria. g know if the administration supports the latter does not support? >> it is my understanding that he administration does support the language to authorize training and equipment of the moderate opposition. but i'm not in those policy discussions. >> i'll understand. anderson did your authorized to say that is supported. with ad i will close. thank you. i want to say to the other committee members that our staff
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has been able to go down and read a memorandum of understanding that we have between the u.s. i wish it was available to all committee members in his three pages long. my understanding is it is very a remarkable. our staff has no antenna's raised in reading it. i just thought i would share that and thank you for your service and thank you for having this hearing. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses for your service. let me just ask you a question. i was curious. i forgot to ask you. have there been any particular changes in direction in the u.s. partnership or relationship that have seemed notable? have we seen changes in
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direction because of the transition? >> if i am confirmed, would love to be given more of a response from land there and able to make my own assessment. our relationship continues to be as close and cooperative as it was before. in power for just about a year. of course, he is not new to the government. he was working for over a decade so while i would not say that they were seeing a change, will we are seeing is continued progress on the areas where we have good and close coordination i have every expectation that if confirmed we will deepen and expand positive areas. >> one of the areas where i no there has been tension is the chairman has hosted meetings before you know, who's chief of
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referring to earlier questions, they have been supporting the view is that changing? are we more in accord now? in no, what is the right way to have influence to bring this humanitarian issue in this award to an end? >> this is something we are always watching. have not barred from anyone that we are ready to just declare that everything is wonderful and perfect, but we do feel we're making progress in our share understanding of which proves costa did moderate opposition and to his word your support. >> thank you for that. he talked a little bit about the economic issues in egypt. it seems like that would be a test for the new president, how quickly he can try to demonstrate some economic improvement. you and i had a chance to talk about this the other day. could you talk about the role
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that the u.s. can play in helping egypt and economic transformation enrollment other allies should be able ploy? >> thank you very much, mr. mr. senator. as i mentioned earlier in the hearing held egypt does of fundamentals were successful economy. needs to be increased to take the steps necessary to build an economy. we have 18 that is actively engaged with the egyptians and gulf states to help target assistance to egypt and encourage the necessary reforms. one of the things that presidents ec has called for his investment. investment is key to developing the economy. you have tab certain sound fundamentals and place, or the investment will not come. among those are a stable society based upon an inclusive democracy and respect and guarantees human rights.
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end of providing security and stability that encourages people to invest. as i mentioned earlier, egypt does benefit from certain advantages this should help give through these crucial times if it chooses to make the reforms. among those are infrastructure, telecoms, access, proximity to markets, natural resources. egypt has the third largest crude reserves of natural gas in africa. a labor market there should be attractive to investors. we need to focus on making the necessary changes so that investors see it as a safe and secure environment, let people enjoy their rights and that they are making the right economic decisions. we can do that by working with
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the gulf states that are particularly engaged. >> one last question on the human rights front. there has been a question, but i was most troubled when i was there in february. the day that i was meeting with egyptian leaders was the day that there is a very prominent set of journalists often. just to show an example of an elected official the does not have to be afraid to answer tough questions. i got some tough questions, but i was used to it because i have been involved in the united states. have you seen any signs since the presidential election? is there in the early evidence about the direction that this cut will take with respect to press freedoms? >> well, the president did make mention of his desire to be a
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president for all egyptians and the sea all egyptians enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms. i think what we want to do to the extent we can to push and taken up on that and encouraged to follow through. obviously we believe in the strongest possible freedom of the press. the broadest possible freedoms for the press. it is very disturbing and unfortunate that journalists have been detained and charged with crimes. happen and so we need to engage and encourage and try to find ways to show that having a free press is in the interest of the judge as a country. >> thank you. ambassador, thank you for your service. i was impressed with your work. i don't have much time left. let me get right to it.
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what do you think about the commitment of the iraqi government, political inclusion of the different factions? that has been troubling me, and i would like your current assessment. >> thanks and thank you for your visit. it was helpful and positive. i think especially as the government faces this terrorist challenge, there is a strong incentive fund political will to try to unify the group's. just recently the prime minister issued a statement encouraging national unity and inviting participation unifying the groups against isil. there is political will. even before the most recent crisis, the prime minister reached out, brought 6,000 travel numbers into the security
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forces, a late for an even larger number. the effect of there is movement on this and it's obvious assumption when the united states can't continue to play a positive role. >> senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. congratulations on your apartment. an interesting time. we have been debating here for a second. what is the definitive pronunciation? >> how would i say it? >> pro only the best. >> , have you been briefed on the memorandum of understanding? >> yes, i have. >> will not be provided to congress? >> i believe it has been made available. >> to your analysis that will be made available to other members? >> i don't. i'm sorry. i am not in the conversations. >> what can you tell us about
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how much the supervision of these individuals the united states will have the ability to participate in? >> they key for giving me the agenda to address this because it is on people's minds, not only in this room. if confirmed, this goes to the top of my list of priorities. we will be working closely with an engaging closely, verifying of what they have, the restrictions they have put in the information that they will be collecting. but also verified from all our own standpoint and assessing continuously every day to reassess whether these people pose a threat to our national security. i guarantee that will be leading a kutcher team of our whole government.
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>> can you share with us what exactly are the expectations of the u.s. participation in that effort? >> what i can share is we have a good and close and projected information sharing relationship . obviously there will not be the only one with eyes on the individual's. it is probably best to leave it at that. >> can you give us your feeling about the capability. >> it is my understanding that they have the capacity to do this. we have a high degree of competency. we also address that they have the will to do this.
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we are cautiously optimistic that there is the ability to do this. of course i think it would not be an effective way to enter into it. that is what we will be working constantly to verify and assess. >> your views in the aftermath in and out of uniform in terms of becoming targets for other groups. >> let me ask you this, are we concerned americans serving our country are now at increased risk?
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>> we are. as diplomats where are always concerned about our national security. our top priority, whether in the country's where we're representing or bacterial. absolutely, safety and security of americans is the number one thing we're concerned about. >> and not like we have seen and are aware. and we understand when we send men and women to represent us around the world, terrorism and groups, it places particular dangers upon those who serve our country. what -- can you give us an assessment of how you view our security and the embassy? obviously you talked about what a priority that would be. if you can show us a little bit about the processes by which
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that becomes a priority and how we insure the safety of those who would be working. >> short. and this is something of a every chief admission is concerned about have particularly focused on. chris stevens, it is something i am mindful of. so as we have moved through since the events every embassy has been looked at and looked at again. it is the price mayoress possibility of the chief of mission to look up the physical security working with the security team as well as any threats posed day and and day out and out of trouble by be changing. it is a constant give-and-take, constant conversation, and a ticket is probably best to leave it at that. >> thank you. currently, where would the administration considered to be sufficient measures by egypt in order to meet the conditions for
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full resumption of u.s. military aid? >> i am unfamiliar. i am not a party to those discussions at. what i look forward to is going to egypt, and contribute to discussions and considerations. i know this is something the illustration is looking at closely. but i am on a new position to answer the question. i apologize. >> let me ask you, there have been recent reports about sexual assaults fest. video showing in of assaulting a woman and policeman struggling to save her. how would you work with the egyptian government to ensure that prevention and prosecution of sexual assault is -- how would you work with them to restore this is a priority? >> what you're referring to and others like it are extremely disturbing, and we are concerned
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women should have the ability to go anywhere that they want can be full participants in the egyptian to rickrack and social processes. agreed to in case the government, make clear that these activities are unacceptable, and i recognize that egypt has made statements to the effect of these are unacceptable and a scholar of security forces to do what they need to to enforce the law and make sure that women are safe. we have ongoing programs about sexual and gender violence, and we must pursue them through our assistance consistent with below >> let me, for the record, my understanding is the memorandum of understanding is available to as well as members and appropriately cleared professional staff members of several committees including the senate foreign relations
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committee which would mean that any member in the professional staff which have been cleared for intelligence briefings will have access. so all members would be able to read it. >> thank you, mr. chairman. want to take the witnesses. when. >> and earlier this week. >> monday? >> i believe it was monday. >> is your security clearance higher than that of all united states senator? >> i cannot answer that question. i don't know what your security clearances. >> i appreciate the fact that now we have the honor to be to review that memorandum. the point of my question is, as a nominee to be ambassador a thank-you should be able to review that, but i think that we should have been as well. and we simply were not until apparently late last night. >> i would like to make a statement to you. if confirmed, will be delighted to consult with you at any of
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the members of the committee against aphis closely in regularly as you like. >> in your testimony you said we're confident the security measures will some sense in mitigate any threat to the individuals may pose to our national security. take you see the video of the celebration of these five detainee's? >> i did not. >> you should review that. it does not look like a restricted environment to be. >> if confirmed we will be focused on our national security and looking at not only the directly threatening types of things they could be doing the things that cost to propaganda. >> because i was not able. i will go down and look at it. can you tell me, and with their restrictions in terms of public displays for propaganda purposes
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with in that memorandum of understanding? have they already violated that? >> the best they can say is that there will be restriction on some of the activities. i would be delighted to consult with you a different setting. >> okay. >> ambassador, how would you assess or how would you describe to resolve that is occurring after we have withdrawn our combat forces? >> facing a very severe challenge it has suffered setbacks. they're is a silver lining. we are seeing in start to pull together in ways they had not
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before. we have seen the kurds start to talk to each other and cooperate. we have seen a conference be put together to reconcile with as many groups as possible. it is an uphill battle, his trouble. we are doing what we can to help them in ways of providing assistance for military equipment, weapons, ammunition, providing training and providing -- sharing as much intelligence as we can. >> again, just kind of a one word assessment of the results. success. >> on the battlefield it is difficult. cannot be considered a success. it is a huge challenge. >> what would you describe the results? >> as the ambassador just
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characterized, i think the government continues to face a severe threat. now penetrating through the influx of foreign fighters across the syrian border as a result was initially, but not exclusively, of course, of the serious a war. a the isil poses a significant threat not only to iraq but to the neighbors of iraq. the united states as a commitment to support iraq and its security command we will continue to work through the measures just outlined to try to support the iraqi security forces in his challenge that they face. >> now that we have seen cities ball to balance of al qaeda common out that we have seen iraqi security forces shed their uniforms and go door to door giving civilian clothes, do you
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see in the silver linings? >> i think what the ambassador said was that the escalation of the threat posed is having an impact in baghdad of trying the political factions more closely together. i think in the last 72 hours we're seeing a series of meetings with various political elements are coming together and looking for ways to cooperate. >> to you expect a security force to turn the tide and be able to capture back to back. >> we certainly hopeful that have come in the think it is incumbent to support. >> you obviously go. god bless you for being willing to serve. 5300 u.s. personnel. will they be safe? >> that is a good question. thinking.
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the compound, as mentioned earlier, i was the deputy chief of mission. no work in that compound. we have taken extraordinary measures to ensure safety and protection of our personal. we will have to make sure and be vigilant to maintain evans. we cannot stay behind the walls. we must be out. the ambassador is out frequently so we are going to have to do the best we can to reduce the risk and ensure that we can both do our jobs and stay safe. >> can you tell me personal our security forces? are those military personnel, state department? >> it is a complicated question. i would love to go into details of the other seven. suffice to say that we have a significant number of opponents security officers.
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we also have a marine security guards and contract guards who are assigned to protect the printer. it is a significant number. >> i appreciate that i hope the security of yourself and those serving with you is your top priority. >> i appreciate that. >> my question have wisely been asked and answered. i will pursue them. i would instruct them on the news that there will be -- the record will be opened until -- for the next 48 hours. i urge you to respond expeditiously so that we can move your nominations. with the gratitude for your willingness to serve, this panel
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is excused and i would call upon our second panel. nominated to be the ambassador to honduras. says. >> if we can have everyone who is not stained for rest of the hearing pleas.
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>> second panel today, nominated to be the ambassador to honduras. a time when we are facing serious challenges from crime and violence. ..
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so i look forward to hearing your views on the best way forward to address those humanitarian issues. mr. smith is an expert and a career member of the foreign service class of minister counselor serving as deputy assistant secretary and assistant director at the state department. a position he has held since 2009. he has served as regional security office of the u.s. embassy in tokyo and the u.s. embassy in rangoon and served as deputy regional security officer and 22nd tours in cairo. we urge you to introduce to the committee and we appreciate their willingness to join in
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your service on behalf of our country. your full statements will be included in the record. without objection i ask you to summarize your openings in five minutes or so so that we can enter into dialogue with each of you and with that mr. nehlen you are recognized first. c. thank you very much mr. chairman. mr. chairman ranking member corker distinguished members of the senate foreign relations committee it is an honor to appear before you as the nominee for ambassador to honduras. i'm deeply grateful to the president and the secretary of state for their trust and confidence. after 30 years in the foreign service i appreciate the privilege and the responsibility that it is to be considered for confirmation as ambassador. i deeply respect the role of the senate in ensuring the united states has a foreign policy that reflects our nation's values. i would like to recognize my wife kristin who is here today and our four children worry
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katie -- and liam. we are foreign service family and we have been in this since the beginning so this is their day as much as mine. i believe i also have a sister a brother and brother and my here so i think all of them. did i see my son arrived from california? glad to see you. mr. chairman the headlines don't tell a positive story about honduras. many of them associated with the direct and indirect effects of narcotics trafficking and organized crime. it's a challenge to establish strong democratic institutions establish a rule of law culture attack impunity and corruption reduce crime attract investment and ensure a prosperous future for honduran citizens. i share with many members of congress concerned about the consequences of slow economic growth impunity weak institutions corruption and extreme violence in honduras.
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i share the view that everything is related. impunity and lack of accountability and transparency promote a weak rule of law culture. they discourage investment and encourage illegal migration to the united states. we are partners with you in seeking to influence this trajectory in a positive direction. mr. chairman in such circumstances somewhat ask of u.s. engagement in honduras makes a difference. i believe that it does and it is in our interest to stay engaged. the honduras with greater accountability and transparency will establish stronger rule of law institutions and be more like you to protect human rights. the honduras with a vibrant middle-class means a larger overseas market for overseas products and a more prosperous honduras means fewer migrants trying to cross their borders. the honduras with strong interdiction capacity means fewer drugs arriving in our communities. as president obama recently said
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respect for human rights is an antidote to instability. honduras was strong human rights protections means enhanced security in our region. the united states is committed to partnering with the government of honduras to promote prosperity governance and security. in order to do so we need willing partners in honduras who have the political will to transform their society the capacity to seize drugs and the commitment to arrest prosecute and sentence criminals. they also need to guarantee the human rights of their own citizens. mr. chairman honduras is at a crossroads. we have seen smartly signs that the government of honduras is ready to take important steps to improve the lives of its citizens. in may for the first time we extradited a notorious honduran drug trafficker to the estates and important strike against impunity. the new government has dedicated scarce resources to better combat trafficking of persons.
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they have fired corrupt police, they have indicted the entire board of directors of the social security institute for corruption and invited united nations to set up the humans rights office. they have also formed a task force to investigate unsolved murders and particularly conflicted area of the country. but there's no doubt the government of honduras still has a big job ahead. i am fully aware of the serious doubt expressed including in the u.s. congress regarding the willingness and ability of the government of honduras to take needed steps to improve the human rights situation. if confirmed i commit to work tirelessly in this area. mr. chairman i've been a deputy chief of mission in three embassies in this hemisphere i am currently the deputy commander of u.s. of an command. i've spent the last 3030 years and nine foreign postings working to promote democracy and human rights enhanced law enforcement and security partnerships and promote u.s.
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exports and investment. mr. chairman thank you again for the honor of appearing before this committee today. if confirmed i pledge to work with you and your colleagues to advance the vital interest of united states and honduras. thank you very much and i look over to answer your questions today and at any time in the future. >> thank you mr. nealon and again we didn't give you the appropriate -- in our introduction. you have 30 years of experience joining the service in 1984 and most recently the deputy chief of peru uruguay and the philippines hungary and chile as well is what we talked about so a tremendous background and we appreciate your willingness to serve. mr. smith. >> chairman minute is ranking member of corker and distinguished members of the hearing i am profoundly grateful
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for the confidence of the president secretary kerry have demonstrated in nominating me in this unique and important position. my entire professional life has been dedicated to public service beginning with my first career as a police officer in raleigh north carolina to my assignments at our embassies in tokyo rangoon and calder and my current role as the deputy assistant secretary for countermeasures with the bureau of diplomatic security i have strived to improve conditions in which our colleagues live and work. i believe my dedication and commitment in this regard will serve me well if given the opportunity to lead the office of foreign nations and organizations whose primary goal is to use reciprocity to ensure adequate double treatment of united states and diplomatic missions abroad in their personnel. regulating the activities of foreign missions in the united states to protect our foreign-policy and national security interest protecting the u.s. public from abuses and privileges of immunities by the members of the foreign missions
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in the provision of service and assistance to the foreign mission community in the united states on a reciprocal basis. as you are aware it was established in 1982 is a requirement of the foreign missions act. in passing the act congress made it clear that the operations of foreign missions in the united states is a proper subject for the exercise of federal jurisdiction. for more than 30 years the act has guided the department's management extension to the foreign missions in the united states broke privileges benefits associated with acquisition and use of real property voter vehicles, driving services, tax exemptions, custom clearances and domestic travel courtesies and restrictions. in my estimation the warren missions act as a landmark piece of legislation which is positively influencing conditions the environment in which u.s. diplomatic and consular missions operate abroad.
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this committee is well aware that the department's ongoing efforts to ensure our personnel a broad work in facilities that are safe, secure and functional. i can authoritatively attests that the relocation of an american embassy is a complex costly and difficult task. to accomplish this job the united states government in many countries -- have been many countries the for support of their host country and in countries where that support is lacking the office of foreign mission plays a critical role in assisting in the resolution of these impasses. we sometimes faced with these during our attempts to acquire real property and in those countries where we relocated our facilities. when a country has an interest in improving and relocating its own mission in the united states the office of foreign mission uses its ability to regulate the acquisition and use of real
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. thank you for this opportunity and your consideration for my nomination. i respectfully request that my entire statement be entered into the record and i would be happy to answer any of your questions. >> thank you both restatements will be fully entered into the record. mr. nealon let me start off with
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for me the most pressing issue of the day as it relates to honduras which is in the headlines and minds of all of us who care about the issues of human rights and human dignity and it's the thousands of young people and increasingly younger people who leave their families and head for the u.s. border because of the inability of the honduran government and other central american governments to deal with crime and violence in a region that is home to the highest murder rate in the world i am personally appalled by the staggering numbers of minors sometimes as young as five and six years old who are left at least i guess by their personal circumstances with no other choice than to try to cross the desert by themselves. as you approach this post i
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would like to get a sense from u.s. to what discussions you have had with the administratioe department. what is our strategy to try to address both the present challenge as well as the underlying causes that present the challenge that gives this this humanitarian tragedy? >> thank you very much senator. i very much share your concerns about these children who are leaving central america including honduras and making a dangerous trip in an attempt to cross our borders. if confirmed as ambassador of honduras of course my piece of this would be an effort in honduras to try to get hondurans to see their future in their own country and not try to make this dangerous trip. we all know what the push factors are. the push factors or the threat of violence and a lack of economic opportunity.
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senator we currently have programs in honduras that are designed to address these issues some of them are very good programs that we have to ask ourselves if it's enough. we have programs such as the great program which addresses at-risk youth and tries to wean them away from the threat of joining gangs. we have programs that offer economic opportunity. we support outreach centers which try to create it culture where kids stay out of gangs, where they try to get job skills but it's extremely difficult. as you have said senator is one of the poorest countries on the hemisphere in perhaps the most violent so they challenge is staggering. >> let me just say that here is part of our challenge and i hope that if confirmed he will make this case within the administration. last week the white house and on
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the congress it would need 2.28 lien dollars, billion dollars to address the issue of unaccompanied minors crossing india and -- to the united states. now in 2015 demonstrations request of congress was only $130 billion for its five country central american regional security initiative. which is a decrease of $30 million over 2014. so given that we need to spend 2.2 billion dollars to a trust the consequences of the crisis here in the united states, it would seem that $130 million is absolutely inefficient to address the root causes of the problem. this is one of the things that boggles my mind. so we are going to spend 2.28 billion dollars almost $3 billion on the president's request to deal with young
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people crossing the border instead of spending that type of money to ultimately make sure they stay in their countries and have the aspiration that you so aptly talk about. i know this is above your pay grade. you don't make this decision but since you are going to be going to this job upon confirmation by hope you are going to make the case that 130 million dollars for five countries which is less than what we have done with $2.2 billion to respond to the problem just doesn't make any sense. this is our problem as someone who is the western hemisphere chair here before it became the full committee chair. getting the focus of the congress and this administration on the western hemisphere is a challenge. our front yard. it's our own national interest and we seem to have a problem understanding that. so we will spend more in on the crisis then we will on meeting the challenge in the first
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place. so can i get you to be an advocate for this proposition? >> senator you can absolutely have me as an advocate for this proposition if confirmed. i'm obviously not in a position to assess how much additional money we might need in honduras to address this problem but i do know that both usaid and the state department right now assessing those programs that we do have so i would very much look forward to seeing the results of that assessment to see if we can get a handle on how much additional money we might need. >> mr. smith let me ask you, what do you consider to be ofm's highest priorities and how do you perceive your role in achieving them? this is the mandate that has evolved and expanded since the creation of the office in 1982. i want to get as denominate what your highest priorities would be and in but your role would be in pursuing them? >> thank you for that question senator. as we know the office of foreign
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missions as he came into existence from the foreign missions act of 1982 gives the secretary broad responsibilities for ensuring that we act in them and are that's appropriate. my priorities will be making sure that our citizens that work abroad are treated fairly and also ensuring that the act to the these of foreign entities here are in support or do not conflict with our national interests and also that there is no abuse of privileges of those immunities by the missions and the personnel that are here. >> now i would like to hear from you, what role is the office of the director of foreign missions play in interacting with diplomatic security with respect to security in our embassies and consulates abroad? >> the relationship between the office of foreign missions has existed for a long time from the
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time before the operations of foreign missions to the point where it is now where it's a separate entity. it has always played a supporting role in helping the office of foreign missions carry out some of its responsibilities. we have to protect the diplomats who are here in the united states to police the aid -- liaison unit. relationships with police organizations and local police throughout the country and so we have to protect those who reside here and we also offer protection to visiting diplomats who come here to visit the country for short periods of time. and every location where there is an office of foreign missions there is a field office for
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diplomatic security. >> one final question. this office is often referred to the office of tit-for-tat meaning that for one of our main goals is to ensure reciprocity treatment of art diplomats overseas. can you talk about that reciprocity and there is one example for example. argentina february 2013 department state inspector general suggested there was an array of reciprocity negatively affecting personnel in the u.s. embassy in point is aris. in particular the report cites inequities regarding the importation and exportation sales and transfer procedures relative to private and government-owned vehicles and household effects. i am under the understanding that the office sent a note to the argentine office drying attention to the situation at the time of the inspector general's report no response had been received. that's an example of one of the
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important roles to play so that our people can have a decent standard of living as they are representing our country abroad. tell me a little bit about the reciprocity issue in general and do you know about this argentine issue specifically? >> thank you for the question senator. reciprocity is one of our major tools that we can use in ensuring better missions operate overseas are treated fairly. i have heard during my briefings for preparations that there has been an issue in argentina. as a matter of fact i know that as you stated the issue was raised in a february 2013 report the reason the issue is still under discussion is the fact that there is still information that we have asked for the office of foreign missions has asked from our mission in buenos
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aires and yes we have been in contact with the argentine mission here but there are additional details that are needed from the people that we have. >> something is wrong with 16 months later we are looking for information versus action. if confirmed where you submit to me that you will make is one of your highest priority is? >> i will indeed senator if confirmed. we very much lack that information because you are absolutely right we are willing to engage on this issue to ensure our personnel overseas are treated in the fairest manner possible. >> senator corker. >> mr. chairman by no senator rubio needs to leave the floor so i will defer and let him go and ask my question after. >> thank you for your service to our country. mr. nealon i have two quick questions and i appreciate the ranking members indulgence on this. the first has to do with an
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issue i'm sure you are aware of and that was a u.s. crew arrested in honduras during a river job. this was the salvage of aqua quest international to drag the river and raised mahogany and seizure laws on the bottom of the riverbed therefore a century. mutually beneficial to hondurans but also to the crew involved in this. it's standard operating procedure for cruise on the coast in this part of the world to have firearms on board to defend themselves from pirates and potential drug traffickers in the region. this group pulled into the port and arrived at the port and declared their two pistols and shotguns and semiautomatic sport rifle. they declared it to the inspection posts. the sailors agree to let them continue to the port but when they arrived there they were arrested for weapons charges and they remain in the custody of the honduran government. i hope to get your commitment today that if confirmed hopefully by the time you get
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there this will have been cleared up but if not you will may could among one of your highest priority to address this outrage that has occurred there. they have done nothing wrong. they followed maritime law and i just want your commitment publicly and we will adjust this issue if in fact this hasn't been cleared up and we hope it will be by the time you get there. >> thank you very much senator. i'm very much aware of the detention of the crew of the aqua quest on may 5. you do have my word that if confirmed as ambassador to honduras the safety and welfare of american citizens will be my highest priority. i too hope that this situation be cleared up by the time i get there if confirmed that i want you to know that if i am confirmed you will call me personally and told me personally accountable for the actions of the embassy in any case involving american citizens. >> we appreciate that. thank you very much. i want to talk about a broader issue that is emerging in the
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press lately because of the urgency of it in the chairman has alluded to in a moment ago. the facts are staggering. five years ago they were 968 unaccompanied children across the southern u.s. order from honduras. this year alone we haven't even gotten up into the year there has been more than 13,000 unaccompanied minors that have come across the border from honduras. this is like i said almost twice as much as last year the entire year. we understand violence and poverty our driver of this and it's important to understand the desperation of parent must have to put their kids in the hands of these groups that are moving across the border. that is how desperate people are to turn their child over. some of these unaccompanied minors are very young children. this is a very serious humanitarian crisis that we are struggling around here to figure out what to do about it. in the short term just to deal with the humanitarian aspects of it i do want to ask you what insights do you have beyond the motivation for doing it why is this happening?
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in essence we have heard anecdotal reports. i've certainly in south florida among members in the honduran community that there are for lack of a better term rumors that in fact children are able to get here and they're going to get to stay. is in fact that rumor circulating and in fact they are as i believe there is some element to that. i don't know how much of it is quantified that whatever percentage is what can we do working with the honduran government to make clear to parents in honduras that despite the desperation that they face of all we need to do to help the honduran people overcome that in their country this is not something we should be doing. they're putting their children in grave danger when they are crossing through mexico into the united states. they become prime targets for traffickers. they become prime targets for all sorts of transnational criminal organizations and when they get to the united states to be abundantly clear the laws of the united states to not allow them to stay here.
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they arrived illegally and whatever it is they are hearing is not accurate. what can we do through our embassy to help make that clear so we can prevent this mass migration? i think is his -- this is a question to ask at her post in el salvador and water mall as well that you are going to honduras. what can we do to make clear that this is not wise and puts their children in grave danger? >> senator thank you very much and as i said to chairman menendez i share your deep concern for the situation. i'm not sure that i have any wisdom to add to what i said to the chairman except i can say that the honduran government is running public service ads in honduras to counter the rumors that you have described. obviously. >> where do these rumors come from? what is the perception that they can come and stay? where's that coming from? >> senator unfortunately i'm not in a position to answer that question paradise and they don't know but i can tell you if confirmed this issue which i think has gotten the attention
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will be the top of my list of priorities to try to address and i really that forward to working with you. i know you have deeper roots in the community and florida. i would really look forward to working with you to to see the good, for some ideas to address the situation. >> thank you. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you to the witnesses and mr. smith i will apologize to you in advance. i have a session about honduras so i'm not going to grill you. i hope you don't mind. i will start with mr. nealon. first congratulations. this is a country of many wonderful people and i think being ambassador to honduras at this time though a very challenging one is going to give you a superb opportunity to continue what's really a career in foreign service so i congratulate you there. i lived in honduras in the euro province in 1981 and i worked with jesuits there who are responsible for a lot of good
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work in that province and around the country. i kind of hate to say this and every time i say it i kind of feel bad saying it but when i was there was a military dictatorship and it was a very brutal case including brutal to the people that i worked with. many were targeted during that time and after by the government because of their activity and advocacy on behalf of the least of these, especially the campesinos in the banana camps l. progreso but it's now worse than ever. there are less safe now than ever. it's not a military dictatorship anymore. we moved out of the military dictatorship. to a time of presidential elections but my friends who are there, it's not that they want to go back but they there are less safe than they were in a country that has been a superb ally of the united states a country that is one of the original partners with us on
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issues like the peace corps and now one of the few countries in the world they can even have peace corps volunteers there because of the level of violence in danger. it's just a tragic thing to think about. one element of the tragedy in particular that i'm concerned about is as you might imagine the people that i work with. there was a radio station in l. progreso radio progress are run by the jesuits bombed and attacked while i was there. a very prominent journalist who worked at the radio station also worked for a jesuit think-tank was murdered on the 11th of april. carlos -- murdered in his home and the speculation has been that he was murdered because he was a journalist and because he was doing with the radio station does which is call attention to human rights problems. there has been virtually no progress are interested that i'm aware of in solving that case and he is one of 34 media representatives that have been killed in honduras since 2010.
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the fate of people i know and it's unfair to focus on those just because i know these folks that these are people doing good work and they are raising questions that have to be asked and yet they are being targeted as other journalists are as well maybe if you could start off there. what can you do in your position as ambassador to demand accountability for the deaths of journalists and that they take it seriously and hold the virtues that we proclaim here about the importance of a free press and the protections that they are entitled to? ..
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>> i believe we have seen early signs of positive steps this government is willing to take important steps to begin to address the issues and with your patience i will name a couple. first of all, we extradited a narco trafficker. they had to change the constitution to do this. we understand more they be coming as well. i think this is a positive step.
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they have fired scores of corrupt police officers. they have indicted the entire board of directors of social security for investigation. and the president wants to open an office of high rights and our congress appropriated funds. i agree the issue of impunity is something we need to get out. >> i want to associate myself with comments about the importance of investments. helping them deal with the challenges are not just because we are good people or it may slow down the minors coming to the borders but this is driven
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by a drug trade fuelled by the american desire for drugs. the drugs going through there are not because of the appetite in the region for illegal substances. it is a convenient stopover place for drugs coming north into mexico, united states or canada. it is hard to look ourself in the mirror and point your finger about what they need to do about their justice system when you know the violence that is causing kids to set their kids free is driven by a drug trade and u.s. dollars. we have an obligation here because the violence folks are suffering under is something that is connected to domestic
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activities in the state. the country has the highest murder rates in the country because of a drug trade that is, at the end of the day, ending up in the united states. the chairman said we ought to be proactive and not wait for the problem to get to our door step. i associate myself with comments on that. i thank the witnesses and i will visit you. >> i look forward to that. >> thank you, senator cane for your insight and i know he as a real interest in honduras and such throughout the central american region. i have one final question mr.
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newland. i was arguing we need to invest more so we don't spend multiple mores as it relates to facing the problem versus meeting the core elements of why we have situations like young people crossing the border. by the same token as i advocatiadvocate for increased resources throughout central america, specifically honduras, we need a strong shared approach with the government in the region and in this case honderas. i want to get an understanding of their willingness and i understand you are not on the ground. but the state's human right
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report in 2013 raised question about the justice, security and unauthorized killing. the president has created a military police force over what should be the u.s. priority of strengthening a civilian force. and in result of recent legislation the they were given authority to shoot down civilian planes believed to be involved in drug traffics. and we can applaud them trying to stop the situation but shooting done creates risks especially if you have the information wrong. so what does this imply as we try to meet the mutual challenge? >> thank you very much, senator.
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first you raised the issue of the military police. these are members of the armed forces who have law enforcement authorities and have been put on the street by the honduran government to address the highest murder rate and the other pervasive crimes. we don't support putting the military on the streets and believe it distracts from the important work we support with our programs of working with civilian peaceforce because military police in the street isn't a viable solution. we have to work with the civilian police. you mentioned, senator, the recent legislation in honduras, the air sovereignty law which people are calling a shoot down
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law. that is problematic to the united states and that has been made known. there were immediate consequences of the law. southern command general kelly had to turn off air feeds that we provided to the honduran because there was risk it could be cruised to shoot down civilian aircraft and there may be other consequences with that moving forward. >> i hope this is part of the work you will pursue in terms of trying to get us to a point where we can get the honduran government to agree with us on the common methodology and one that we can be supportive of it. senator corker asked me to say he is going to submit his questions to the record.
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he had a conflict in his schedule and couldn't stay longer. i would encourage you to answer those questions and any other questions as quickly as possible so we can consider your business nomination. and with the thanks of the committee for your willingness to serve this panel is excused and this hearing is adjourned. >> thank you very much. >> whitehouse press secretary jay carney entered several questions on the escalating violence in iraq. he told the reporters we would continue to offer assistance but are not thinking about sending in any troops.
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>> i am not an oakland fan but last night my son's team had a season-winning ending and here is to the bcca's! and that is the only announcement y at the top. the president does have an event at 2:00 so we will get to briefing unless everybody decides they want to run over and cover that. but i wanted to note that is on schedule and if anybody needs to go over that is fine we will
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keep going. jim? >> thanks, jay. just to clarify something on behalf of my colleagues. this isn't your swan song? >> it probably isn't. we will see how it goes. can i decide that at the end? [laughter] >> the president just today with prime minister abbot the u.s. is prepared to take military action when our national security is threatened. does the islamic state of iraq offer a threat to the u.s. national security? >> as the president said, jim, we are very concerned about the isil and the extremist threat in northwestern iraq and bordering
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region with syria and there is no question that iraq is a strong and important partner to us and that is why we have the relationship we have with iraq and have provided substantial assistance to iraq including military assistance and we have increased that assistance over the past year as the challenges posed by the unrest and civil war in syria have spilled over and in the last several days now they have caused great concern with what is happening in iraq. so what the president made clear was that we have been providing a significant amount of assistance to iraq including military hardware and josh detailed some of that the other day. and we are considering request
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from the iraqi government and looking very closely at other efforts we can undertake to assist iraq in this very serious situation. ultimately, as the president also made clear, iraq's future has to be decided by a unified effort among the different groups and political parties in iraq coming together in moderation to fight the extremist threat posed by isil and that is what we have had discussions with iraq leaders about and that continues to be the case. >> in the situation, have you ruled out the use of u.s. ground
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troops? >> we are not thinking about ground troops. the president was asking specifically about airstrikes and he made clear we are considering our options as part of the overall effort to support iraq and as part of the overall assistance we provide and can provide iraq in this fight. but we are not contemplating ground troops. >> airstrikes are part of the contemplation? >> when he said he wasn't ruling anything out he was considering airstrikes. >> isn't it a little too late? >> i think it is important to note that we have been ramping up our assistance to iraq, including substantial amounts of military material and hardware, for some time now.
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what we have seen in the past several days is significant and concerning escollation in the violence and movements by isil forces, jihadist, into the country and the occupation of some towns and cities. so we have a near term situation we need to move quickly on and we are assessing what week provide additionally -- we can -- and do additionally to assist iraq. we have the longer term and ongoing challenge in our partnership with iraq to help them unify the country and assist them through the counter terrorism partner fund to be better able to handle this
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threat now and in the future. >> were you surprised by the second showing of strength by the insurgency? >> i think that i know that we have been monitoring this for some time and have been very concerned about and have discussed the concern about the problems caused by the unrest in syria and the war in syria and the porous border for iraq and the challenges that creates for iraq and the need for iraq to have it's capacities increased and for iraq itself to apply those capacities in a way that meets the challenge. that is why we have taken the steps we have in the past including delivery of 300 fire missiles, millions of small arm fire, thousands of tank imnition, machine guns, flairs,
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sniper rifles, m-16 and other rifles to the security forces. and delivered helicopters and scanning platforms are on schedule for delivery this summer. and we notified congress of $1 billion in arms including up to 2 million hum vee. and we are expanded our traning programs inside iraq and in jordan where a second round occurs this summer. this is part of an ongoing effort to help the iraqi forces deal with this threat as the president focuses on the need for a unified border approach to be taken by the iraq government
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in response to this common threat that the extremist group pose and the members that don't have the iraq national interest at heart but who are bent on death and destruction in iraq and the threat they pose is to every individual within iraq. and therefore we will continue our discussions including if the ongoing consultations the vice president has with the iraq leaders to urge a more unity among the political parties and communities in iraq as they dole with this challenge. >> and let me quickly ask you about immigration. the president said the immigration reform isn't dead. does this mean you are not ruling out the possibility of
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taking administration action on deportation between the august recess? >> the president is referring it the effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform. we believe that the broad coalition and concensus that existed prior to this week's primary in the 7th district of virginia is as strong today as it was then. and the house ought to follow the senate's lead and pass a bipartisan immigration reform measure that would provide extraordinary benefits to our economy, security and to our businesses and would deal with this challenge in a comprehensive way. that was what the president was referring to. >> there has been talk about the surprise of seeing how fast things have been moving in iraq.
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given what has been going on in syria, was there this scenario something the administration saw for some time? if it wasn't, should that have been? >> as i think i just said, we have been very aware and discussed in other venues the challenged posed by the war in syria and the extremist activity there and the isil as it formed and moved across the border into iraq. that is why we stepped up the assistance we have been provided to the iraqi security forces. i think the president accurately said we cannot be everywhere at
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all times. whether it is iraq or elsewhere, we need to partner with other countries and their millitaries and security forces to assist them in combatting these challenges and that is what the counter terrorism fund the president discussed at west point is about and that is the manner we approach the iraqi government and the support we give the iraqi security forces. a sovereign nation like iraq has to have the capacity to deal with these challenges. we can assist and we are. and we will look at all options in the near term situation. but the medium and long term solution to a challenge like this has to be one that is led
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by iraqi security forces. >> does this make for a great argument for the u.s. should have acted sooner in syria? >> i can remember answering questions before you got here, mitchell, about our concern or should we be concerned when it came applying lethal assistance in syria and whose hand that would end up in and rather or not we could trust that assistance wouldn't find its way to extremist who had designs against national security interest or americans themselves. that is why we took the approach we took and why we have established were quite some time a manner why which we can provide and have provided
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assistance to the opposition armed elements. and that is the approach we took precisely because we didn't want and many others didn't want for assistance from the united states to end up in the hands of extremist. justin? >> two quick ones. the first is when the president determined about a year ago he wanted to launch airstrikes, targeted air strake strikes against syria, he went to congress for that. if he makes the same decision here do you think it is important to get authorization from congress?
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>> there is requirements that exist regarding using military force in conflicts else where, not in syria, the president said today he is considering all options in response to the question about potential direct action by the united states military. but you know, we would have to get back to you on how that would proceed if that decision were made. >> does this change your withdraw from afghanistan? we have seen certainly republicans on the hill suggested that a big reason this rebel insurge was able to take place was there was no presence. so does this change the approach the president announced? >> it doesn't change the
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approach the president took. we are ending that this year and pending the signing of a bilateral security agreement we will keep a smaller number of troops in afghanistan focused on the missions that the president discussed. and i think the broader question has to be when we talk about this should american men and women in uniform be fighting in iraq today and is that the right approach for our national security interest? should american forces be occupying countries for decades or should we take the approach that the president took when he ended the war in iraq and established a relationship with the sovereign government of iraq but through which we can provide the assistance we provide. that is the approach he believes is the right approach and it is certainly consistent with the
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strategy laid out in afghanistan. chris? >> following up on that question. do you have anything that gives you reassurance? >> we need a strategy that is focused on partnering with security forces of other countries that helps them develop the capacities necessary to deal with these kind of threats because we cannot have u.s. forces around the world in armed conflicts without end. it simply isn't a wise approach to our national security interest. we retain, as the president made clear today, the right to use
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military force unilaterally if it is demanded but that is not the solution to the med medium and longterm solutions to terror groups like the isil and that we should not partner with other nation's security forces in an effort for the terrorism partnership fundrais that allow them to work together. >> doesn't this undercut the president's argument, since you brought up west point, given the fact it continues to devolve? >> when you are asking that about iraq is the suggestion that we should send or still have tens of thousands of troops
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in iraq? if that is the proposition we can discuss that. that is not the president's view certainly. what we can do is consider request from our partners in the iraqi government and provide the assistance we have provided to the iraqi security forces. military material, intelligence assistance and the like. and we can contemplate other request and take action as needed and necessary. but if the question you are asking is should we have 10, 20, 150,000 troops in iraq the president's answer is no. >> senator john mccain says the president should present a clear plan to congress soon. does the president have
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immediate plans to consult with the members of congress? >> we are in active conversation with congress. >> how would you characterize what is happen in iraq? would you call it civil war? >> we are seeing a jihadist group composed of non-iraqis and mixed nationalinalities threatening the state of iraq and the iraqi security forces need to confront that threat and we are working closely with the government in baghdad and iraq's political leadership to evaluate the assistance we can provide in
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addition to the assistance we have provided. >> would you character it as a civil war? >> i think the way i characterized it reflects what is happening on the ground. >> c-span 2 provided live coverage of the senate events and on the weekend booktv. for 15 years the only television network devoted to fiction books and authors. watch us in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. coming up on the next washington journal, a look at the situation in iraq. our guest is michael gordon and then matt kibey discusses eric cantor's primary loss and the impact of -- >> tonight

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